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Dr Laura Leon Llerena

Associate Professor

MA, PhD Princeton University

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Associate Professor in the School of Modern Languages and CulturesA27, Elvet Riverside I 
Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies  


My research is concerned with the circulation in America and Europe of knowledge produced by and about indigenous peoples from the 16th to the 18th centuries. My published work has analyzed translation and colonization of indigenous languages, the complex coexistence of indigenous and European media, and the ways in which material culture and notions of the sacred and religion redefined social and cultural identities in early modern contexts. Methodologically and theoretically, my scholarship is anchored in literary studies with an interdisciplinary framework that draws on the fields of history, Indigenous studies, and anthropology.

My teaching practice at undergraduate and postgraduate levels encompasses colonial, postcolonial, and decolonial analysis of Latin American cultural productions from early modernity up to the 21st century. 

My current monograph Reading the Illegible: Indigenous Writing and the Limits of Colonial Hegemony in the Andes focuses on the long first century of colonial Peru (1532-1648). It introduces the notion of legibility to discern the dynamic ways in which in a multi-lingual and multi-media colonial landscape, indigenous Andeans and colonizers articulated various epistemological strategies in their uses of alphabetic writing and indigenous media. Legibility emphasizes how the multiple practices of production of meaning were embedded in the constant negotiation of power in the religious, social and economic spheres, moving away from a traditional understanding of literacy that presuposes that the production of meaning was inherent to specific media. The monograph is under contract by the University of Arizona Press for publication in 2022.

Office Hours

Term 2 /Epiphany 2022 [10 January - 18 March]: Thursdays from 2:00-3:00pm

To register for a 15-minute advising time slot in person or via zoom/teams email me at:

Research interests

  • Indigenous and Native American Studies
  • Colonial Latin American Literature and History
  • Ethnography of Writing
  • Religion and Culture Studies


Authored book

  • Leon Llerena, Laura (2023). Reading the Illegible: Indigenous Writing and the Limits of Colonial Hegemony in the Andes. University of Arizona Press.

Book review

Chapter in book

  • Leon Llerena, Laura (Accepted). What Makes an Archive Indigenous? In Indigenous Archives: Keepers, Tellers, and Translation. Haas, Lisbeth & Zappia, Natale University of Nebraska Press.
  • Leon Llerena, Laura (2021). Lecturas y lectores. La circulación de conocimiento y la construcción de una hegemonía cultural. In Libros en movimiento. Nueva España y Perú, siglos XVI-XVIII. Gehbald, Agnes & Jiménez, Norah Edith El Colegio de Michoacán, Mexico.
  • Leon Llerena, Laura (2021). Escribir en los Andes: autores indígenas del siglo 17. In Libros y autores en el virreinato del Perú. De la cultura letrada a la independencia (1821-2021). Ortiz Canseco, Marta & Ruiz Rosas, Alonso Instituto Cervantes. 64-71.
  • Leon Llerena, Laura (2016). Manuscrito de Huarochirí (1598-1608): Ensayo introductorio, selección anotada de capítulos y bibliografía esencial. In Narradores indígenas y mestizos de México y Perú Siglos XVI y XVII. Zamora, Margarita & Cortés, Rocío Centro de Estudios Literarios Antonio Cornejo Polar. 321-346.
  • Leon Llerena, Laura (2014). Narrating Conversion: Idolatry, the Sacred, and the Ambivalances of Christian Evangelization in Colonial Peru. In Coloniality, Religion, and the Law in the Early Iberian World. Arias, Santa & Marrero-Fente, Raul Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press. 40: 117-135.
  • Millones, Luis & Leon Llerena, Laura (2004). Hechizos de amor: poder y magia en el norte del Perú. In Entre Dios y el Diablo. Millones, Luis Tomoeda, Hiroyasu & Fujii, Tatsuhiku Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos, Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica. 197: 179-209.

Journal Article

Translated Book

  • (trans.) (2008). Allen, Catherine J., La coca sabe: coca e identidad cultural en una comunidad andina (The Hold Life Has Coca and Cultural Identity in an Andean Community). Cuzco: Centro de Estudios Regionales Andinos Bartolomé de Las Casas

Supervision students